The UNEP “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” (TEEB) initiative aims to promote a better understanding of the value of ecosystem services and to offer tools that take proper account of this value. The vision of TEEB is for society to become one that recognizes, measures, manages and rewards responsible stewardship of its natural capital. Therefore, TEEB works with countries and companies to incorporate natural capital into their policy and decision-making processes.
There are three core areas of work for TEEB:
1) TEEB Country Studies: a TEEB Country Study identifies the ecosystem services that are vital to meeting the country’s policy priorities and makes recommendations on how these services can be integrated into policies. These recommendations depending on the country context, can include policies for poverty alleviation, subsidy reform, land use management, protected area management, securing livelihoods and investment in natural infrastructure restoration. TEEB studies can be carried out at various levels of governance – national, regional, and local. TEEB may also help influence various spheres of decision-making – public and private.
2) Measuring what matters in agriculture and food systems (TEEBAgriFood): Sustainable agriculture and food systems underpin the delivery of a wide range of Sustainable Development Goals, and are key drivers to achieve global and national sustainability targets. However, it is needed to fix food metrics and move beyond the sole indicator of ‘per hectare productivity to drive food policies'. TEEB for Agriculture & Food (TEEBAgriFood) connects to the compass of future policies by making the economic argument for intervention options that improve livelihoods and nature outcomes at the same time. TEEBAgriFood is piloting an innovative approach to ‘measuring what matters’ in agriculture and food systems in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand and Indonesia.
3) Advancing ecosystem accounting: Transformational change is only possible if we institutionalize tools for better accounting the value of nature in economic decision-making at all levels. TEEB's economic ‘compass’ of GDP was never designed to include biodiversity values and measure wellbeing. UNEP TEEB, in collaboration with the United Statics Division, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and financial support from the EU, works with Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa on applying and mainstreaming Ecosystem Accounting in five large, mega-diverse countries (Brazil, India, China, South Africa and Mexico). The statistical framework applied is termed the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EEA). It is the sole statistical standard applied for ecosystem accounting.
The collaboration between UNEP-TEEB and MapX – developing and piloting natural capital dashboards and story maps – brings spatially explicit nature valuations to life on a geospatial platform and demonstrates how country partners ‘work with nature’ to meet specific policy priorities.